About Me

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I'm a mom, a wife, a best friend. Sick with CFIDS/ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia since 1975 as a result of a nasty flu while still in grad school, it wasn't until the late '80's that I received a diagnosis. Until that flu I'd never really been ill before. With each year I get progressively worse and add to the bucket load of symptoms I'm living with. I've been blessed with an incredible family and best friend who've stayed with me through my struggles as we continue to find a way out of this monstrous illness and its complications. We've tried seemingly every approach to find my way back to health. Often I think our best weapon in this undesirable and unasked-for adventure has been laughter.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Salt...The Rest of the Story

"These are just some of the reasons salt is not always bad for you!"  Just kidding: I have NO idea what I was being so passionate about.
It seems that everywhere you turn these days, the health message is that everyone MUST cut down their sodium intake. I, personally, get very offended by this message and call it "politically-correct medicine," an extremely dangerous way to go, not to mention rigid, as well as tunnel-visioned.

Instead, the message should be, know your blood pressure numbers and THEN decide, with your doctor, if you need to cut down on your sodium.

Fifteen years ago, I was at a very dangerous point in my health. Until just recently, it was the absolutely worst period of my health and out of desperation I decided to add the holistic, alternative, homeopathic and every other word you can imagine that describes what "main-stream" medicine is not, to what my doctors and I were already doing.

In the course of that year, 1997, I also went into seriously monitoring absolutely everything I ate, trying many different sorts of diets in order to find what worked best for me. I couldn't care less if a certain diet helped someone else. If it didn't work for me, it wasn't a useful diet for me, something I believed even before I became ill in 1975. If it didn't help me, it wasn't my answer, no matter how "good" it sounded. Ditto with the various therapies I underwent. No stone went unturned.

After being close to death when I started various (and many) holistic therapies - using them in addition to what worked for me in "conventional" medical care - almost miraculously, I started to get stronger - or at least I wasn't at death's door - after about two months. By six months I was actual driving again for the first time in many, many years.

But then suddenly I started to take a backward turn with passing out, frequent falls, the stars in my eyes upon getting up, the blacking out. No one could figure out what was going on. I could no longer drive for fear of a car accident.

Finally, a month later, a massage therapist, who wasn't even one of the people I went to at the holistic clinic, happened to overhear me talking to a fellow patient and heard me say that in addition to quite a few supplements, I was also taking garlic capsules every day, not realizing that one of the touted "benefits" of garlic is blood pressure reduction - fibro-brain, anyone?

Bingo! My already low pressure was made even lower by the garlic - and dangerously lower. Instead of my normal 90/70 - on a good day - my BP sank to 70/50 or even lower on bad days. The fact that I have orthostatic intolerance, each time I sat up my BP would lower by 10 points, and when I actually stood up, my BP would lower by yet another 10 points, getting my BP down to 65/50 (or even 60/45), a potentially lethal situation. Now getting out of bed was actually a danger to my life. (Note: I ran these numbers by my doctor so that there are no mistakes in writing them here - I do realize that they sound more like fiction than fact.)

A couple of weeks later I happened to mention this "discovery" to a friend of mine and she quietly told me that her father had died because of low blood pressure. I subsequently found out that low blood pressure in the past was often a cause of death. For those who remember the movie "Marty," the father of Ernest Borgnine's character also died of blood pressure that was just too low.

Now, no one thinks that someone with normal blood pressure shouldn't be concerned with sodium intake, especially if processed food is part of one's diet. However, if you eat healthy food, cooked and prepared by a person, not a company, your sodium intake will not, most likely, significantly affect your blood pressure.

However, if you have low blood pressure, you DO need to watch your sodium intake - you need to get enough salt to raise it to where you are not constantly passing out! (For some of my
 more spectacular falls, see a funny incident I posted before about one of my "better" falls here .)

My BP is so low that on those occasions when I throw caution to the wind and give into an Italian sub, I actually add salt to the ham! (Salt on ham? That's a good one! Joke!)  Hubby laughs that I need a salt lick. When things get very bad, I'll pour a bit of salt into the palm of my hand a few times and lick it up. And before you go "yuck," I ask you, how much does this differ from a margarita with salt around the rim of the glass, or whatever nonsense people do with tequila shots? At least there's no alcohol involved, and let's not forget that most with CFIDS/ME/fibro are alcohol intolerant.

So, let's all try to forget "politically-correct medicine," and try to figure out what our own individual bodies need. Keep an eye out for what symptoms you have and don't just blindly follow the advice of doctors on TV or on blogs who have absolutely no idea what your particular body and health needs are.

Perhaps THEN you can figure out how to attack one aspect of trying to improve your health.

I certainly intend to revisit these topics again: PC medicine, finding out what is best for YOU, as well as what your BP may be trying to tell you.

In the meantime, here's to everyone feeling the best they can, only better! Till next time - please take care!


  1. Irene, bravo! As always, insightful, smart, engaging!
    May I suggest some caviar, baluk, smoked sturgeon and other immumerous type of fishes salty enough to get you ready for a gulp of vodka or gorilka, providing that you belong to smallest group of people with CFIDS/ME?fibro who can drink. Although I remember that you mentioned the alchohol as not very appealing...

    1. LOL, Mariula! Just last night I told hubby that I was craving caviar and he said we weren't living in NYC any longer when he could run uptown in the middle of the night for caviar - referring to an incident when I was pregnant w/ VL. No, unfortunately can't even tolerate the smell of any alcohol.
      Welcome back. Hope you had a great vacation and are getting a bit of rest as you try to get caught up w/ work. Thanks for writing!
      Ира xx

    2. Oh...just remembered! Had herring last week, which I normally only eat on Christmas Eve, and only a bite at that! It was fantastic! :)

  2. I eat a very very plain diet most of the time...and on occasion I find myself craving salt. So...to make that gremlin hush, I eat some of the weird five or six types of rock salt in my spice cabinet. I've had this habit since I was a child--i would open up my grandmother's salt grinder to get it! Yuck.

    1. Great idea for me, M, thanks! Different types of rock salt sounds good to me! Welcome to my blog and I do hope you'll be back for more! xx

  3. I eat a very very plain diet most of the time...and on occasion I find myself craving salt. So...to make that gremlin hush, I eat some of the weird five or six types of rock salt in my spice cabinet. I've had this habit since I was a child--i would open up my grandmother's salt grinder to get it! Yuck.